Eggs Benedict is an all time breakfast classic packed full of flavours, contrasting textures and colours. The ingredients are very simple: toasted Ciabatta, Iberica ham (though German Smoked Ham (as shown above) or Bacon work well and are significantly less expensive) topped with poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce served with slow roasted tomatoes, basil and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Waitrose Paleta Iberica de Bellota 65g £4.99 (£7.68 per 100g) transforms Eggs Benedict into a real luxury dish with its melt in the mouth texture and rich flavours, in addition it has the great advantage of not requiring cooking!However some cooking is required and for a very long time poached eggs were my nemesis, I tried everything: swirling the water as I added the eggs, buying the freshest possible eggs, adding white wine vinegar to the water, using metal and silicone poachers and yet none of these either singularly or in combination guaranteed “the perfect poached egg”. Then one day I caught a programme by Heston Blumenthal where he revealed the secret – break the egg into a cup and then carefully tip the egg onto a skimmer as shown below, leave the egg on the spoon for a few seconds before carefully tipping the egg back into the cup. By doing this the wateriest part of the egg white is removed and when the cup is carefully immersed into a large pan of water taken off the heat containing a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and the egg tipped into the water the egg will remain as a tight white ball (well usually – sometimes despite everything things still goes wrong and the pan is filled with frothing white streamers of egg white!)
Total time 20 minutes, serves 2.
- 4 eggs (use the freshest eggs possible, Clarence Court Burford Browns with their rich yellow yolks are my favourites)
- 2 or 4 slices of Ciabatta depending on the size of the loaf and appetites! (Both Sainsburys and Waitrose sell wonderful Ciabatta loaves)
- Iberica ham, enough to cover the slices of bread (Waitrose – see picture below)
- Hollandaise sauce (Maille have a great ready-made sauce and any remaining sauce can be kept for up to 4 weeks in the fridge after opening)
- Cherry tomatoes or a small tomatoes such a Perino (Tesco) are ideal.
- Fresh basil leaves
- Salt (Maldon)
- Freshly ground pepper (try grinding some pepper corns in a pestle and mortar for a real pungent blast of pepper. Don’t over grind or you will end up with dust and a totally different taste experience!)
I have not given any timings for the steps below as they naturally flow one to another.
- Switch on the oven and turn it up to 190 degrees Centigrade.
- Without waiting for the oven to warm up place the tomatoes in an oven proof dish and drizzle lightly with olive oil before placing in the oven and leaving to roast. (If you are using bacon instead of ham place four rashers in a lightly oiled baking tray and put into the oven to cook at the same time as the tomatoes).
- Meanwhile fill a large sauce pan two-thirds full with water and add a tablespoon full of white wine vinegar, cover and bring to the boil.
- While waiting for the water in the large saucepan to boil gather all the remaining ingredients, cut the Ciabatta, crack each egg into a cup before gently pouring the egg onto a skimmer spoon as shown below. The egg should only be left on the spoon for a few seconds to allow the watery part of the egg white to drain away before the egg is carefully tipped back in to its cup.
- Put a second smaller saucepan about one-quarter full of water on to the stove over a low heat (too high a heat and the sauce will split) and place a small bowl containing 6 to 8 teaspoons full of hollandaise on top of the saucepan and stir occasionally as the sauce heats through.
- Once the water in the large pan is boiling turn off the heat, remove the lid and carefully tip the eggs out of their cups into the near boiling water. Rather than simply tipping the eggs in from on high slowly submerge each cup in turn so the water floods into the cup and over the egg and then tip the egg out into the water.
- Put the Ciabatta onto toast and at the same time place two plates in the oven to warm through.
- Make some coffee!
- As soon as the toast is ready remove the plates from the oven and start to build the dish in the following order: toast, ham, eggs, hollandaise sauce, with a side dish of roast tomatoes (don’t forget them its all too easy!) and a sprig of basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
The only difficult step is in getting the poached eggs out of the pan. Use a skimmer spoon to slowly lift one egg at a time from the pan, tipping the edge of the spoon against the walls of the saucepan in order to drain off any water trapped on the surface of the egg and then remove any final traces of water by dabbing the underside of the spoon with a wad of paper towel before placing the egg on top of the ham and toast.
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Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2012. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.